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How to Make Night Sky Stars & Stars Milky Way photos easily with your DSLR camera shoots



After returning from my Himalayan travels or treks, I always post my night sky photography on Facebook and Instagram. People asked me various questions, such as how to film the night sky, how to capture stars and galaxies like this, with which camera I took those night sky photos. I answered them one by one. But today I come up with the idea to publish an article if I can share the tutorial with you on how to do nighttime sky shooting with my DSLR.

Here are some of my night sky photos, Milky Way photos taken in Ladakh, Spiti Valley trip and in Sandakphu & Brahmatal Trek –

  Milky Way of Nako Village
Milky Way of Nako Village, Kinnaur | Camera setting: f / 3.5, 25 sec., ISO-3200, focal length 18 mm
  Mlky Way Photo by Tso Moriri
Milky Way Photo by Tso Moriri, Ladakh | Camera setting: f / 3.8, 30 sec., ISO-3200, focal length 18 mm
  Night sky at Sandakphu Trek
Night sky at Sandakphu Trek | Camera setting: f / 3.5, 25 sec, ISO-3200, focal length 18 mm
  Milky Way in the Spiti Valley
Milky Way Photo in the Spiti Valley | Camera setting: f / 3.5, 30 sec., ISO-3200, focal length 18 mm
  Night sky photo during Brahmatal trek
Night sky photo during Brahmatal trek, Uttarakhand | Camera setting: f / 3.5, 30 sec., ISO-3200, focal length 18 mm

Before I begin, let me tell you that night sky photography is not rocket science. Anyone can shoot if he or she has a decent DSLR camera with the required settings. Since I use my Nikon D5300. You can also shoot it with Canon, Sony and other DSLRs. All you have to do is follow the steps below.

What do you need for night sky photography?

You need these 4 things to photograph stars in the night sky, Milky Way Photos:

1. A DSLR with a wide lens like the focal length of 18 to 55 mm or it can also be lower. (I use Nikon D5300)

  nikon d5300
nikon d5300

2. A camera tripod

  Camera tripod
Camera tripod

3. A wireless remote control (optional)

  wireless remote control nikon
wireless remote control nikon [194559018] 4. Flashlight or headlight

  headlight
  Flashlight
Torch [19659018] Also, for night sky photography, you need to be in a place where the environment is mostly dark, you should avoid a place with the light source and the urban pollution, so in this sense I would like to tell you that I have tried out the night sky to shoot my city Kolkata, but since the sky in the city t is dirty and it is not too dark, I could not capture the night sky from here. Rather, you can try from a place that is far away from the city. One of the reasons why I like to visit mountains is night-time sky photography. In the mountains, the air is pollution-free and there is no or minimal light source at night, so it is very easy to detect the night sky. So try capturing those glittering stars on your next mountain trip.

What settings do you need to be aware of before night-sky photography in your camera?

Well, I do not take a deep logic behind every attitude. If you have any question about the logic behind each setting, you can leave a comment below, and I'll certainly answer that.

Now here it is –

  1. Remove any type of filter, polarizer from your lens.
  2. Set your camera in manual mode.
  3. Turn on the camera in manual focus
  4. Disable noise reduction for high ISO sensitivity
  5. Disable long term stress reduction
  6. Always photograph the night sky Photo with RAW image format
  7. Set for your Set the ISO value to between 1600 and 6400
  8. Set your camera aperture to f 3.5
  9. Set the camera shutter speed or exposure time to between 20 seconds and 30 seconds

Note: You can lower your f-number to 1.4 or 2.8 if your camera allows it.

  night sky star camera settings
Example of night sky star camera settings in Nikon D5300 with 18 mm lens

Now here's a hook to s joke a decent night sky photo your camera needs correct exposure settings. As with the shutter speed, you need to set between 6 and 45 seconds to allow enough light in your shots. But if you leave it open too long, your camera will detect the movement of the stars and the photo will blur when you zoom.

There is a rule for this, that is "500 Rule" . To know what the perfect exposure will be, you must follow "500 Rule" .

Here is the 500 rule of photography:

500 divided by the focal length of your lens = The longest exposure (in seconds)

For example; When taking a picture with an 18mm lens on a full frame camera. 500/24 ​​= 21 seconds which you can round to 20 seconds. This formula applies to all full-frame cameras.

If you are using the crop sensor camera now, multiply the crop factor by the focal length before dividing that number by 500.

  • Sony & Nikon = 1.5 Crop Factor
  • Canon = 1.6 Crop Factor

So for example: My DSLR is Nikon D5300 crop sensor camera , So I follow this rule

My lens focal length 18 mm .

Shutter Speed ​​= 500/18 mm x 1.5 = 18.51 sec. ~ 20 sec.

Now you can take pictures in different settings as below to give a try and error and see which is the best capture. I recorded earlier with the following settings. You can also find some of my shots with the following camera settings:

ISO: 1600
F: 3.5
SHUTTER: 20 seconds

ISO: 1600 3.5
SHUTTER: 25 sec.

ISO: 1600
F: 3.8
SHUTTER: 30 sec. [19659002] ISO: 2400
F: 3,5
SHUTTER: 20 seconds

ISO: 3200
F: 3.8
SHUTTER: 25 seconds

ISO: 3200
F: 3.5
SHUTTER: 30 seconds

This way you can use the combination change from ISO and shutter speed and try to get your desired shot.

Then you need to mount your camera on tripod. Make sure your tripod does not wobble during recording.

Now you come to the most important part of it. How to focus manually in the dark state. For this you have to illuminate an object near your camera. You can use your flashlight or headlamp to adjust the focus wheel of your lens and check your camera's display when it's focused. Now set the camera timer for 5 seconds or 10 seconds and press the shutter button (you can also use the wireless remote control). After a while, check this out, if you are satisfied with the frame, come to exposure and focus well or try again. Remember to take 5 – 6 shots so you can choose the change to choose the perfect one.

Watch my YouTube video on night sky photography


I hope you get an idea how to take photos of night scenes. In my next tutorial, I'll explain how to edit the night sky image in post-processing software like Lightroom or Adobe Photoshop. I use Adobe Lightroom for post-processing my night sky, Milky Way photos.

Well, if you like this blog post, subscribe to my blog, share it with your friends, and do not forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel as well.


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